I respond to “Letters to the Editor” (The Courier, Thursday, June 18).

Thank you Chamber of Commerce president Russell Stewart and the Chamber for your support of Council’s proposal to freeze rates and charges for the 2020-21 Financial Year.

This was a decision supported by all councillors with full knowledge of the plight of residents and businesses in our shire.

We all live and work in the shire and are fully aware of the burden that drought and now COVID-19 has put on all of us.

The rates and charges freeze had been a long discussion over many months with business and individuals across the shire.

Councillors also contributed to this in other ways:
• Contributed over $250,000 to CBD building facades
• Held a small business summit with the Minister for Finance and Small Business
• Free social media savvy workshops for business owners
• Free busines shop front workshops for business owners
• Provided the necessary funding to underwrite the Why Leave Town program for all businesses in the shire to participate for free – previously this cost businesses to participate
• Waived the fees for the Narrabri CBD Christmas carnival
• Waived the fees for Shire CBD businesses to use the footpath for trading
• Agreed to provide a $15,000 grant program to help small businesses get online
• Halted debt recovery on council rates
• Extended the period for rates to be paid until later this year

As for Greg Lamont’s comments on the Council Budget and his concerns; I find these comments by Mr Lamont and some others to be not constructive and not said in concern for our community or shire, but just another way that they can bang their drum with regard to their own agenda.

His figures are taken out of context at the least.

The Council budget is well prepared.

Council provides additional breakdowns outside what is required under the Act and applicable accounting standards.

The comments regarding Councillors not understanding the role of the auditor I find to be nothing but condescending.

He makes mention that Council has not balanced its books: how do you ever get the privilege of balancing your books in business with so many variables, such as four years of drought and now COVID-19?

The Council general manager also has to consider nine Councillors asking for a rates and charges freeze at a cost of $796,000.

No charges for the Shire pools over the Christmas holidays – $60,000-$70,000 plus, supporting Nurruby Childcare Centre with the purchase of the building they rented to the tune of approximately $315,000.

Councillors have also quite rightly invested thousands in the economic future of the shire in establishing the Northern NSW Inland Port.

And I know, as is the same in my business, that when you employ 250 human beings, there are bound to be stuff-ups, accidents, compensation, etc, all to the tune of a great deal of money.

You can make all the budgetary predictions you like, but in the real world that I live in, that can all change on a daily basis or the blink of an eye.

I can assure all ratepayers that Council is in a great financial position and furthermore is in a better position than we have been for many years through the hard work of the general manager and his directors.

The general manager and his staff have done and are doing a great job and are supported by the elected members who are there on the spot dealing with the business of Council first hand and are proud of what we have done and what the general manager and his staff are doing.

The Narrabri Shire is on the cusp of great things.

There is not a shire in NSW let alone Australia with the opportunities that we have ahead of us.

Let’s focus on the opportunities we have before us and not be distracted by the detractors.

The budget has been on public display for all to see over the last month.

Council’s budget can be accessed via the Council website.

I invite all to have a look for yourself.

Cr Ron Campbell, Narrabri

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